Thursday, July 14, 2016

Morale? Perhaps, But Intrigue for Sure

Background: July 2016

"US navy researchers conduct tests to grow vegetables on submarines

 The $100,000 research project was born out of a hackathon at the Under Sea Warfare Center where sailors said they wanted salads to be served on submarines. Holman said providing fresh food will act as a morale booster and help the navy retain sailors. ...Fresh vegetables only last the first seven to 10 days of submarine deployment, which tend to be three months. After that, sailors have to resort to frozen fruit and vegetables."

note 1- The "hackathon" began ...[in Oct. 2014] when 35 NUWC scientists and engineers pitched 47 ideas in response to four undersea technology challenges: submarine stealth, platform design, payload technology and sailors’ quality of life.

note 2 -  The main hurdle facing Holman will be how to get the gardens onto submarines that have limited space. He is confident the current 40ft shipping container could be scaled down but submariners he’s spoken with have expressed doubt. 

Submarine Quote of the Week 

note 3- Retired navy captain Ronald Steed, a former sub skipper, expressed doubts over how much it could feed a crew of 170 on board a submarine for three months.

[I]t would be a real challenge to fit a garden on a submarine, where space is extremely tight, “but if they could do it, that would be awesome”. - Ronald Steed, former sub skipper [ibid.]  

A Lame Cover Story at Best 

How so, we may ask?

We should not confuse NASA's zero-gravity and elevated radiation crop production research to enable human space pioneering with submarine hydroponics (although space limitations are similarly constraining).  Much of NASA's research has been done here on the planet as shown in the photo below.  

note 4-  One of the earliest hydroponics successes dates from 1936. Wake Island was used as a refuelling stop for Pan American Airlines (due to the long distances of Pacific flights. Hydroponics provided vegetables for passengers because Wake Island had virtually no soil and it was also too expensive to airlift in fresh vegetables at the time.

note 5-  Fast forward to 2016. There is hardly a need to re-invent innovations like this one, which already exists:

What then might be the purpose of such a ridiculous cover story?
  •  Could explain frequent loading and offloading of suspicious shipping containers around the globe (e.g. labeled "HYDROPONICS")
  •     The more such containers are observed, the less conspicuous they would appear to observers.
  •     Fits nicely with recent assignment of women to subs. Should anyone be surprised if the underlying "salad research" persists for years?
note 4-  Some of Vigilis's shipmates recall the frog discovered by their culinary staff among fresh salad greens barged in as we "anchored out" from Naples.  Yes, "it" was excellent for our submariners' morale!

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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